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J Exp Med. 2005 Sep 19;202(6):793-804.

Independent roles for IL-2 and GATA-3 in stimulating naive CD4+ T cells to generate a Th2-inducing cytokine environment.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


T cell receptor (TCR) signaling plays an important role in early interleukin (IL)-4 production by naive CD4+ T cells. This "antigen-stimulated" early IL-4 is sufficient for in vitro Th2 differentiation. Here, we provide evidence that early IL-4 production by naive CD4+ T cells stimulated with cognate peptide requires TCR-induced early GATA-3 expression and IL-2 receptor signaling, both of which are controlled by the degree of activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). Stimulation of naive CD4+ T cells from TCR transgenic mice with low concentrations of peptide-induced IL-2-dependent STAT5 phosphorylation, IL-4-independent early GATA-3 expression, and IL-4 production. Neutralization of IL-2 abolished early IL-4 production without affecting early GATA-3 expression. In addition, naive CD4+ T cells from GATA-3 conditional KO mice failed to produce early IL-4 in response to TCR/CD28 stimulation. Stimulation with high concentrations of peptide abrogated early GATA-3 expression and IL-2-dependent STAT5 phosphorylation, and resulted in the failure to produce early IL-4. This high concentration-mediated suppression of early IL-4 production was reversed by blockade of the ERK pathway. A MEK inhibition rescued early GATA-3 expression and responsiveness to IL-2; these cells were now capable of producing early IL-4 and undergoing subsequent Th2 differentiation.

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